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Aeroplane

tpallini@businessinsider.com (Thomas Pallini)
Business Insider – January 17, 2020

  • An Airbus test aircraft successfully took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in southern France autonomously without any pilot input.
  • The test was part of Airbus’ Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off, and Landing program that explores increasing autonomous technology in aircraft.
  • The success of the test may be the next step in creating fully self-flying aircraft, though Airbus has said pilots will always be “at the heart of the operations.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Airbus released photos on Wednesday of a flight test it conducted last month that maybe the next step in making fully self-flying planes a reality.

The flight tests successfully sought to have one of its newest aircraft, the Airbus A350-1000 XWB, take off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France completely on its own, aided by imagery from the aircraft’s camera.

Test pilots for the European manufacturer said that all they had to do was line the aircraft up and engage the autopilot, with the aircraft doing the rest, including making the necessary corrections to stay on the centerline and bringing the plane’s nose up when required.

Here’s how the automatic takeoff was performed and what it means for the future of aviation.

“It started to move and accelerate automatically maintaining the runway centerline, at the exact rotation speed as entered in the system,” said Airbus test pilot Yann Beaufils. “The noise of the aircraft began to lift up automatically to take the expected take-off pitch value and a few seconds later we were airborne.”

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